At a packed meeting on the mayor’s rezoning plan for East Harlem last night, members of Community Voices Heard marched out to the street and held a rally, while members of El Barrio Unite refused to allow the city’s presentation to continue, with both groups expressing concern that the mayor’s housing plan would result in the massive displacement of the neighborhood’s existing residents.
The two groups had planned their protests separately, and their demands were somewhat different. Community Voices Heard called on Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to ensure that the city’s plan included a $200 million down payment to NYCHA, that 30 percent of the total housing be affordable to families making $23,000 and less, and that 40 percent of the housing on public land be affordable to that income bracket.
The group was a key partner of the speaker’s office, Community Board 11, and Borough President Gale Brewer in crafting the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, upon which the city claims its own rezoning plan is based. It is also a regular recipient of Mark-Viverito’s discretionary funding. Its demands represent an effort to ensure the city lives up to the Neighborhood Plan’s promises—and goes a bit beyond it, by guaranteeing more units for very low-income residents.